Film Reviews

X2: X-MEN UNITED

By • May 2nd, 2003 •

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20th Century Fox presents in association with Marvel Enterprises a Donners’ Co/Bad Hat Harry production
Running time — 134 minutes / MPAA rating: PG-13

People have a lot more choices regarding who they mate with than ever before. You don’t have to settle for the only available person in your village anymore. I have shocking news for all the anthropologists pondering what happened to the Neanderthals. Nobody wanted to mate with them.

Now even morbidly obese people have a chance to become attractive to the opposite sex. After we get ourselves perfect (or become obscenely rich) we can mate with perfect people and produce better-looking children. We have clear choices about the path future generations will take.

If mutants actually walked the Earth, every non-mutant would be clamoring to mate with them. So I have a basic disagreement with the fundamental X-MEN premise that mutants threaten the status quo. In present reality, they would be hailed as stars. Entire industries would develop exploiting their extraordinary powers.

Yet, according to X-MEN and now X2: X MEN UNITED, mutants are feared and treated like SARS carriers. Apparently anyone can give birth to a mutant. It’s an evolutionary crap-shoot. However, the President of the U.S. wants to have all mutants registered though most are keeping their powers hidden (unless you are born blue). The mind-boggling superiority over The Laws of Nature and Physics usually shows itself in puberty. A slim few are sent to the extravagantly funded Xavier’s School for Gifted Children run by wheelchair-bound Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).

I’m not sure what exactly is bothering everybody about glamorous mutants but they must be a menace since the President wants General William Stryker (Brian Cox) to destroy all mutants. Stryker has an emotional reason for disliking mutants. Xavier just happens to have an enormously expensive gizmo, Cerebro, that can track and monitor all mutants. That device would be illegal in the U.S., right?

Shouldn’t having power over fire or weather be useful for Mankind? Shouldn’t Storm (Halle Berry) be doing something more useful for Mankind instead of teaching class? Can’t the President find a national security job for shape-shifting Mistique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos)? Since Stryker wants to eliminate all mutants, Xavier must enlist the help of his once friend-now enemy, Magneto (Ian McKellen), who is encased in a plastic prison. When Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) returns to the School, the entire X-Men team is re-united, with Storm, Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and stand-around Cyclops (James Marsden), in place.

The film opens with spectacular special effects which sets the tone of the film. Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) is a flying mutant with a brilliantly realized power to evaporate. He’s whiny, blue, and has religious graffiti all over his face and body. He talks with an annoying German accent. I felt like kicking the blue out of him. New mutants abound and their abilities are wonderfully showcased. I especially liked Stryker’s sidekick, the non-talking Yuriko Oyama, known as Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) and the sullen teenage fire-starter Pyro (Aaron Stanford). He’s the only one who enjoys, and actually brags, about his power. Rogue (Anna Paquin) and her chaste boyfriend Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) should graduate and move to a farm in Missouri. Grey and Storm (with better agents than Cyclops) each take their turn centerstage at being grandly heroic. Mistique gets to spend some time masquerading as supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Wolverine is deliciously more fierce and virile and holds the film together with his droll, angry take on mutanthood. Once again, Wolverine’s storyline is the most compelling.

Xavier and Magneto snap at each other like arch old ladies. I’ve grown tired of them. There’s only so much one can do in a wheelchair or standing around in isolation barking at orderlies. These two should retire, fall in love, and play bingo.

Everything whips along with such rich special effects, emotional subtext, and wry attitude that it deftly out-ranks the original. Director Bryan Singer, working with more money and muscle, pulls out all the stops delivering a highly appealing, slyly sinister dimension to the X-Men world.


Cast:
Professor Xavier: Patrick Stewart
Logan/Wolverine: Hugh Jackman
Eric Lensherr/Magneto: Ian McKellen
Storm: Halle Berry
Jean Grey: Famke Janssen
Scott Summers/Cyclops: James Marsden
Mystique: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
William Stryker: Brian Cox
Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler: Alan Cummings
Sen Kelly: Bruce Davison
Rogue: Anna Paquin

Credits:
Director: Bryan Singer
Screenwriters: Michael Dougerty, Dan Harris
Story by: Bryan Singer, David Hayter, Zak Penn
Producers: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter
Executive producers: Avi Arad, Stan Lee, Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer
Director of photography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Production designer: Guy Hendrix Dyas
Music editor: John Ottman
Co-producer: Ross Fanger
Costume designer: Louise Mingenbach
Visual effects supervisor: Michael Fink
Special makeup designer: Gordon Smith

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